Looks like it’s Pakistan day here on SM. So, I figured that Mutineers might enjoy a series of interesting updates on Pakistan from one of my fav milblogs, Strategy Page. My single biggest beef with Stratpage is the lack of outside links so, take everything here with the requisite grain of salt. However, their material does & has generally lined up with info from other news sources over time and it’s very valuable to find it in nice bite sized chunks here.
The stats on Afghan refugees formerly & currently in Pakistan helps frame how intertwined the 2 countries are –
October 9, 2008: In Pakistan, the government has ordered all 70,000 of the remaining Afghan refugees (there since the 1980s Russian invasion of Afghanistan) in Bajaur to return home. In the last few months, some 20,000 have already fled back to Afghanistan. Most of the two million Afghan refugees went home after the Taliban were chased out of power in late 2001…
Pakistan’s internal toll from terrorism (particularly security forces asked to confront lawless regions) gives some context to why they’re sometimes skiddish to putting more boots on the ground in NWFP –
October 8, 2008: The head of the ISI gave members of Parliament a rare briefing. Although secret, and apparently superficial, some details leaked out. In the last fifteen months, over 1,200 Pakistanis have been killed by Islamic terrorist attacks (including 117 suicide bombings). In the last seven years, nearly 1,400 security forces personnel have died fighting Islamic radicals (Taliban and al Qaeda).
Offensives in the Swat Valley & civilian casualties –
The Pakistani offensive continues in the Swat Valley, where more of the Taliban and tribal leaders are getting cornered and killed. There are also more losses among the civilian population, because one of the primary weapons the army has is the ability to cut off electricity and road access. This has led to more disease and untreated illness among the tribal civilians.
In Kashmir, Indian troops spotted Islamic terrorists trying to cross over from Pakistan using a high (5,000 meter) pass. Troops were sent up and spent most of the last ten days fighting the Islamic gunmen they found up there, killing at least 13 so far…The difficulty of getting people across the border has been increasing for the past six years, since India began installing new sensors and equipping troops with thermal imagers.
Zardari on India’s intentions towards Pakistan -
The newly elected president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, has been making the rounds, visiting neighboring countries and allies in the West. He has made several statements which have enraged many Pakistanis back home…Zardari also said that India was never a threat to Pakistan. Again, this is something that is not appreciated back in Pakistan, where “defending the country against Indian aggression” has long justified all manner of excesses. But, in fact, India has never had any interest in taking over Pakistan. The place is a mess, and India has plenty of domestic problems already.